Master Gunnery Sergeant Kevin Bennear
Baritone vocalist and concert moderator Master Gunnery Sergeant Kevin Bennear joined “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band in January 2000, becoming the third featured vocal soloist since the position was established in 1955. Master Gunnery Sgt. Bennear began his musical instruction at age 9. After graduating in 1990 from Elk Garden High School in Elk Garden, W.Va., he attended Potomac State College in Keyser, W.Va., and earned a bachelor’s degree in music in 1996 from West Virginia University (WVU) in Morgantown, where he studied with Peter Lightfoot. In 1999, he earned a master’s degree in vocal performance from the University of Tennessee (UT), in Knoxville, where he studied with George Bitzas.
Master Gunnery Sgt. Bennear has performed with the UT Opera Theater, WVU Opera Theater, Theatre West Virginia, and the Knoxville Opera Company, where he played the role of Sharpless in Giacomo Puccini’s Madama Butterfly with noted soprano Stella Zimbalis of the Metropolitan Opera. He also taught voice as a graduate teaching assistant at UT.
Watch Master Gunnery Sgt. Bennear perform Randol Alan Bass's Casey at the Bat; George Butterworth's The Lads in their Hundreds; and John Philip Sousa's Smick, Smack, Smuck and Boots.
Watch Master Gunnery Sgt. Bennear and Gunnery Sgt. Sheffield perform A Journey Through South Pacific.
Gunnery Sergeant Sara Sheffield
Mezzo-soprano vocalist and concert moderator Gunnery Sergeant Sara Sheffield joined “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band in May 2005, becoming the first featured female vocal soloist in Marine Band history. Gunnery Sgt. Sheffield began her musical instruction on piano at age 9 and voice at age 16. After graduating from Jacksonville High School in 1997, she attended the University of North Texas in Denton and earned a bachelor’s degree in vocal performance in 2001. In 2008 she was named a regional finalist in the Mid-Atlantic Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. She earned an executive master’s in business administration from George Mason University in 2016 in Fairfax, Va.
Prior to joining “The President’s Own,” Gunnery Sgt. Sheffield was a member of the U.S. Army Band’s Army Chorale at Fort Myer in Arlington, Va.
Watch Gunnery Sgt. Sheffield's interview about the 40th anniversary of women joining "The President's Own."
Watch Gunnery Sgt. Sheffield perform Charles Ives's In Flanders Fields, John Philip Sousa's Will You Love When the Lilies are Dead?, Camille Saint-Saens My Heart at Thy Sweet Voice from Samson and Delilah, and Al Piantadosi's I Didn't Raise My Boy to Be a Soldier.
As Marine Band vocalists and concert moderators, Master Sgt. Bennear and Gunnery Sgt. Sheffield are soloists at White House State Dinners and the Commandant of the Marine Corps’ residence, and featured performers in the annual musical productions of Washington’s Gridiron Club and Military Order of the Carabao. They perform regularly in the Washington, D.C., area and across the country during the band’s annual concert tour.